Darren Boyd stars as the only male midwife on a busy maternity ward in new ITV sitcom The Delivery Man (premieres Wednesday, April 15).
We caught up with him to talk about babies, fatherhood and working with Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness…
What can you tell us about your character, Matthew?
"He left his job as a policeman and we join the series on his first day as a midwife. I don’t think he liked the mentality of the police force and wanted to do something that was a bit more valuable and had more depth to it. He’s a gentle spirit at heart and I think he wanted to bring new lives into the world rather than smash old lives over the head!"
How does Matthew cope on his first day?
"He’s sort of fresh meat because he’s the new one – and he’s also the only male midwife on the ward – so it’s a double-edged sword. But even though he’s a fish-out-of-water, he’s a capable one. Often in comedies like this the main character is always wrong-footed and all the humour is derived from that. What I liked about this was they’ve flipped that and made him quite capable. His main fault is sympathy and he gets caught up in other people’s problems. He sort of becomes an anchor in a sea of idiots!"
How have you been dealing with the real babies on set?
"We always have twins, so we can swap them over if one starts crying. They’re much easier because you just rotate them and for the most part they’re a complete joy. It’s interesting how the whole set goes a bit cooey when they come out. They’re brought out like something from the Lion King and placed into our arms!"
How old are the babies you used for the series?
"We had one that was five days old and that freaked me out. It’s like the size of your hand and I didn’t enjoy that. The mum was there – they have to be able to have the baby in vision at all times – and we had to do a scene where it’s a water birth. We’re holding this little fellow over the water, very carefully and safely, but it’s still five days old! I saw the mother looking a couple of times and I asked ‘are you OK?’ and she had this rictus smile. I’m sure it looks great and is very real, but talk about kid gloves!"
That IS young. How old are the babies you usually use?
"Most of the ones in the series are about five or six weeks old."
Tell us about Matthew’s best pal Ian, a police officer who comes to visit you in the hospital…
"Ian’s played by Paddy McGuinnes and I like to think of him as Lenny to my Inspector George Gently, which he kind of is in a way! Matthew is straighter as a character and Ian represents the mentality that Ian was pulled away from in the force. On a personal level, he takes the mick out of Matthew for his choices and his commitment, but there is a puppy dog love for him as well."
How was it working with Paddy?
"It was great, we had a good laugh while filming."
Did you talk to any male midwives to prepare for the role?
"I tried to but in the end it just wasn’t possible. I have two kids, one who’s less than a year old so the whole experience is pretty fresh in my mind anyway!"
If you weren’t an actor would you rather be a midwife or a police officer?
"I’ve got two young kids so I’ve got a lot of love for midwives. My two kids were born at different hospitals but the midwives were pretty heroic on both occasions. I don’t have too much to do with the police thankfully… so I’d have to say midwife! "
How would you really fare delivering a baby?
"Hopeless. Terrible. Disastrous."
How did you cope when your own children were being born?
"It was all a blur, but I do remember one thing that happened with our second baby. I’ll have to be careful here or my wife will kill me, but anyway she wasn’t holding back vocally. We were all there to enjoy and support that, but then a midwife came in and shut her down. She said" 'I don’t want to hear another word out of your mouth because all the energy is at the wrong end!' The next contraction came and our daughter came out ‘boom’ like that.
"So if I had one piece of advice it would be shut your mouth… I’m not sure that advice would be very well received, but I can tell you first-hand that it works!
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Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.